FOOTBALL

Arizona football: Turf makeover to kick off

New synthetic field at Arizona Stadium should be ready Aug. 1
2013-01-15T00:00:00Z 2013-01-15T06:19:55Z Arizona football: Turf makeover to kick offDaniel Berk Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
January 15, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Arizona Stadium has changed a lot over the past two years.

A new videoboard went up in the south end before the 2011 season. On the north end, the construction of the Lowell-Stevens Football Facility has been going strong for more than six months.

Get ready for another change.

This week, the university will choose a company to install new synthetic turf into Arizona Stadium. The UA stopped accepting bids on Friday.

Installation is expected to begin about Feb. 1 and be completed by Aug. 1, in time for the home opener Aug. 31 against NAU.

The more versatile turf will replace the current natural grass surface, allowing UA football players to work out at the stadium year-round, even after heavy rain.

"August 1 won't be a tight deadline," said Suzy Mason, the UA's senior associate athletic director for operations. "I feel pretty good that we can get the prospective bidder in on February 1st, and very confident that by August we'll have a brand new Arizona Stadium field."

What will the field look like?

That's still up in the air. But, Mason said a decision on the final design of the field is needed by today because it will impact the final cost of the project.

Synthetic turf fields typically cost more than $1 million but are cheaper to maintain.

Mason wouldn't divulge a lot of details about the field's appearance, but she doesn't anticipate any drastic changes.

"I think there's no doubt you will know you're in Arizona Stadium," Mason said. "We're not going to do checkered end zones or anything crazy like that. But, there could be some small changes."

One thing that will likely stay the same is the Block A at midfield. In fact, it will be stronger than ever.

"One of the most appealing things about the synthetic turf is that it always looks nice," said John Perrin the UA's senior associate athletic director for finance. "The Block A is a great logo, but by the fourth quarter of a game, it's harder to see.

"Now, it will look nice the whole game."

Mason said the only expected hiccup during the installation is UA's May 11 commencement, which is being held this year at Arizona Stadium. The installation will pause for graduation and then resume afterward.

"I have no idea what it will look like at graduation," Mason said. "I'm feeling confident that if we get them rolling by February, we can get it to a stage where it looks good for commencement. There will be a lot more back-end work to do after that point."

The installation of the new turf also means the Wildcats will play their spring game outside of Arizona Stadium for the second consecutive season.

The UA played last year's game at Kino Stadium, but will stay on campus this year and play at Kindall-Sancet Stadium.

A date for the game hasn't been announced.

Mason said she's hopeful Wildcats coach Rich Rodriguez and his staff can begin moving into Lowell-Stevens shortly after the Fourth of July.

Mason and Arizona athletic director Greg Byrne recently took a tour of the $74 million facility, which is still under construction.

"It's really starting to feel like a building," Mason said. "Before, it just felt like a structure. Things are starting to take shape and you can see where everything will go."

Mason said there can't be any margin of error when figuring out when coaches and personnel can move in.

"Having a move-in timeline will be critical," Mason said. "The coaches have to get in there and everything has to be up and running perfectly for them. By the second week of July, they are in season mode and live out of their offices.

"We need everything ready to go by then."

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.



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